AFLW 2022: Maddy Prespakis opens up on move from Carlton to Essendon Bombers, round 2

AFLW star Maddy Prespakis has opened up on her move from Carlton to Essendon, revealing she needed to make “fresh start” away from the Blues.

Prespakis won the AFLW Best and Fairest award in 2020 and was named in the All Australian team twice during her four seasons with Carlton.

But the 21-year-old has swapped the navy blue for the red sash, joining the Bombers in their inaugural season in the league.

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Essendon is one of four new expansion sides to join the AFLW in its seventh season and the Bombers started their campaign in style with a 36-point win over Hawthorn last weekend.

Prespakis starred for the Bombers and passionately tugged at her the jumper after kicking her first goal for the club she grew up supporting.

“The first game was just unreal,” Prespakis told

“To get our first win but even better — running out in the Essendon jersey for the first time I put my arm around one of my best friends Georgia Gee and we kind of just smiled at each other and said ‘How good’s this’.

“It’s awesome. Not many people get to play for the team they barrack for. It is amazing. It had nothing to do with me moving to the club or anything. It just adds that bit of special feeling to it in a way that I do get to pull on the jersey (of the club) I barrack for.

“It is very special and I definitely don’t take any minute for granted. Being able to wear it for the first time on the weekend was just amazing and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I don’t reckon I slept that night after the game.

“Those around me saw just how happy I was and how much it meant to me.”

The Bombers take on Carlton this week and Prespakis is expecting her old Carlton teammates to give her a hard time after some of them didn’t take her departure from the Blues particularly well.

“I suppose there’s still a few girls that I did speak to on the phone in terms of my move who were probably disappointed and didn’t really want to speak to me after that,” she revealed.

“I’m sure they’re still a little bit disappointed but I’ve still got massive lifelong friends at that club and I can’t wait to see them. I still talk to a fair few of them everyday and they still keep in contact with me and see me as the same person I was before I left.

“It doesn’t change our friendship. It just changes the jumper we’re wearing. It’ll be awesome to see some of them.

“Probably going to expect a few boos and maybe a few of them are going to want to tackle me a bit harder but that’s part of footy and I embrace every part of it, every challenge that comes with any game.

“If it’s not getting tagged or tackled, I don’t know what footy really is. I enjoy it and I embrace the challenge that comes at me and try and smile my way through it.”

Prespakis said she needed a change and the move to Essendon has been refreshing.

“It’s definitely put that kind of fresh start in my mind in terms of being able to create new friends, new teammates — having to earn the respect of those around you,” she said.

“I’ve loved it and embraced the new challenge that’s ahead. Part of the move was to push my boundaries and get out of my comfort zone and I feel like I’ve been able to do that at Essendon.

“I feel like when I enjoy footy I play really well. At the moment I’m enjoying it and loving every bit of it.

“For me, it’s just growing as a person and a leader on and off the field.

“I just want to get that enjoyment factor back to where it was and yeah, I’m really loving it.”

The Bombers may be in their first AFLW campaign but they are eager to make finals and won’t be using the expansion tag as an excuse.

“It’s like ‘Oh yeah they’re expansion’, you get a lot of leeway in your first year,” Prespakis said.

“But the team that’s gone through and put the list together has been really bullish about wanting to make an impact from the start and being able to do that with some experience and some good kids coming through.

“Finals is definitely on our radar. It’s something we would love to be apart of very soon. If that’s this year that’s awesome.”

Prespakis is only 21 but is already one of the more recognisable faces of the AFLW — she has paired up with young Nalia as part of the NAB Mini Legends campaign.

“I never thought this would happen,” she said.

“When I got told Maddy you’re getting a NAB Mini Legend, I had a few tears in my eyes because I was like, ‘What the hell? Someone wants to be a mini Maddy’.

“It’s pretty crazy that these little kids look up to people like us and I’m a role model in someone’s life, which is bizarre.”

The midfielder is getting used to the scrutiny that comes with being one of the AFLW’s biggest stars but prefers to block out commentary and just focus on her footy.

“Being only 21 and having a bit of that external noise around your name and stuff is pretty crazy,” Prespakis said.

“I probably don’t thrive on it. I don’t pay attention to what people think in terms of if I played well or anything. I just keep enjoying my footy. I’ve got really good people around me that keep me level headed all the time. I’ve got a really good leadership group here at Essendon that are very supportive of myself.

“For me, my main focus is to enjoy footy and bring others into the game and make sure my teammates are loving it just as much as me. I don’t really pay attention to maybe who people think I am and all that stuff and the profile I might have. It doesn’t really phase me to be honest.”

Essendon take on Carlton at 11:10am AEST on Sunday. Watch every AFLW game LIVE on Fox Footy and Kayo.

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